By DEIRDRE CRIMMINS
Starring Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders and Benjamin Ramon
Directed by Lars Damoiseaux
Written by Lars Damoiseaux and Eveline Hagenbeek
While it may be hard to get excited about another zombie movie, the truth is that there is still plenty of life in the genre yet (get it? life?). YUMMY puts its zombie outbreak into a shady Eastern European hospital and delivers a pretty solid lineup of gore gags and flesh bites.
Alison and Michael (Maaike Neuville and Bart Hollanders) are driving her mother Sylvia (Annick Christiaens) to a hospital in order for both of the women to get plastic surgery. Sylvia is getting a full menu’s worth of nips and tucks, while Alison hopes to get her ample breasts reduced to help with back pain. Michael is a good guy for not only putting up with Sylvia on the drive, but also loving Alison for who she is, and not what is in her bra. He may drive a clunky car and look a bit schlubby, but he’s a good guy deep down.
The hospital, however, seems to be of lesser quality than Michael. The staff seem nice enough, and their program of providing free abortions to teens is noble, but their lack of professionalism when it comes to basic operating room cleanliness and remembering which procedure to perform on which patient raises some major questions early on. Michael’s experience as a med student should be an asset to Sylvia and Alison, but when he gets in the way of Alison’s surgery he is sent away on an unofficial hospital tour to get him out of the staff’s hair.
On the tour he sees a woman tied up, naked, wearing a protective mask. Being the good guy that he is, he offers to help her. Big mistake. After removing her mask we see that she has no lips, and her bloodied face and mouth are chomping hungrily at Michael. She wants flesh. Micheal runs away in fear which lets this zombie escape, and the hospital is soon overrun with these bitey monsters.
Like so many zombie movies, there are various groups of survivors forming, all making a plan to get to safety and having that plan thwarted by these previously-human creatures. The difference here is that they are almost all hospital staff or patients. There is one scene where the remaining patients are all trying to evacuate the hospital, with all of them in a different state of bandages, crutches, and wheelchairs. The chaos is a sight to see, and one clearly not destined for a clean getaway.
YUMMY stops short of being a horror comedy, but it also never takes itself too seriously. The nature of the setting gives plenty of reason to have topless women running around, some with potential incision sites drawn on them, as well as plenty of medical equipment for stabbing and barricading. While the situation is awful for the trapped humans, it is a perfect location for a messy zombie chase.
The lack of earnestness does carry throughout the film, for better or worse. We are given just enough information about the characters to know why they are doing what they are doing, but there is not enough given to harbor any true emotional investment. And the throwaway source of the zombie plight is only a loose excuse for some creature design, and not a comment on humanity or the future of life on Earth. Mind you, YUMMY never claims to have any aspirations of such self-awareness, so odds are no one should be looking for them here.
As a vehicle for spilling blood and bashing zombie skulls YUMMY is a perfectly solid entry into the canons of zombie cinema. It may not be exceptional, but that does not stop it from doing what it does, and doing it well.